After our nice days with Justin and his family in Texas we drive along the coast to Galveston. The beach is endless but it`s too cold for swimming and the uncounted oil refineries are not really a motivation to stay for longer. So, we soon pass the state border to Louisiana.
The state is named after the French King Louis XIV and his mother Anna from Austria. Louisiana lies at the river mouth where the Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico and has 134.264sqkm and a population of 34/sqkm whereby 16% of the landmass is swamp. The highest point is the Driskill Mountain with 163m.
You cannot avoid to come into the Swamp area at some point in time and we decide to have a closer look and drive to the Chilcot State Park. The Swamp looks like you know it from the movies but unfortunately, we don`t see alligators.
Close to New Orleans we stop at one of the sugar plants from the 19th century. We visit the Oak-Alley Plantion which is surrounded by beautiful old oak trees. From 1835 until the end of the civil war in 1865 slaves did all the work. An exhibition shows the life of the slaves at these days and a guided tour thru the main house gives a good overview how people lived.
On the next day we drive to New Orleans. We stay at the public parking place and can easily walk to the city center from there. It`s Mardi Gras time and the town is good packed. Parades are every day and comparable to the carnival in Germany with the exception that they throw necklesses and paper cups instead of candies. The region is well known for good sea food and specialties like Po-Boy, Gumbo, oysters and much more which we all taste in various restaurants. Late afternoon we go back to our car for a quick rest and realize our 10th flat tire in four years. We put the truck on a jack and forget this case for the time being. Then we go back to town and enjoy the nightlife. The Bourbon Street is known as the party mile and in most of the pubs they play life music from Hardrock to blues, Jazz and country and western. A lot of alcohol is involved and later in the evening it`s getting crazy. Close to midnight we have enough of it and go back to our car.
But New Orleans also has wonderful old colonial buildings and many hidden corners which we explore during a guided tour thru the French Quarter. After this we stroll thru the streets and visit the Katrina and the Mardi Gras museum. Certainly, we cannot miss a beignet at the Café du Monde which takes us more than half an hour waiting time before we get a table.
No visit to New Orleans without a Mississippi steamboat tour. At lunch time on the next day we make a tour of two hours on the river with buffet and Jazz Band. This feels like a step back in time and it motivates us to read once again the stories of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. In the evening, we visit the BB King Club and the house of blues, both with excellent live music before we leave the city on the next day.
The party is over and now we are faced with our flat tire. It`s not so easy in the States to get it fixed like it was in Mexico or South America. What the American mechanics don`t know they don`t touch. So, we`ve made an arrangement with Tim who is a friend from Justin and lives in Ponchatoula and we hope that the tire keeps the pressure for the 50 miles. Unfortunately, 10 miles before we reach our destination we had to install the spare tire and then the same job again together with Tim and it`s already dark till we`ve finished. We have a quick beer and a Pizza with our friendly helper before we fall in bed. Thanks again to Tim for all the help provided.
On the next day, we drive to the Fontainebleau State Park and stay a couple of days while riding our bicycles and relaxing at the campfire.
Before we leave Louisiana we must two things which we have not done so far and that`s eating Craw fish and do a swamp tour. Craw fish is a specialty in the Southern states and is served boiled and spicy. You need a minimum of 2 pounds from it as only the tail is eatable. Super good.
During a swamptour you expect to see a lot of wildlife when you cruise around in the wilderness for two hours. The highlight at our tour were two wild hogs who always wait at the same place for the tourists to get fed and two baby alligators. We thought we get a little bit more for $62 but our guide explained that the alligators don`t like the cold weather and slowly get active above 68F. So we must come back in high summer when millions of mosquitos wait for us.
We cross the state border to Mississippi and sleep at a Walmart parking place which is directly at the sandy beach. It`s Mardi Gras Sunday and parades are all over the place. We drive along the coast, cross Alabama and shortly after we are in the sunshine state of Florida.
In Pensacola we visit the historic town and enjoy a Bavarian wheat beer together with a Bavarian Brezn. The beach with its white sand is really beautiful but they don`t let you stay overnight. Finally, we park in a parking lot and are lucky that the police is busy with Mardi Gras. But the second night we had to move.
The panhandle is a very busy area and the beach is really awesome. But every acre is private property and overnight is only allowed on campgrounds for $30 and up. In addition, its spring break and the college kids are all over the place. Finally, we are lucky that we get the last site at Grayton State park for a couple of days.
A few miles before the village of Apalachicola we have our 11th flat tire. But luckily, we find a small tire shop similar to the ones in Mexico who can help us very quickly. Apalachicola is known for its oysters and seafood and we stay overnight at the public library and enjoy a good supper. On the next morning we drive to the National Forest and relax in the Hammock and on the campfire for some days.
On our way to South -East we make a stop at the Wakula State Park and make a very nice boat tour thru the untouched nature and see alligators and Manatees.
In Gainesville we visit our friend Andy and stay with him for a night. Andy loves to cook and so we spend a very nice evening together with his family. In the morning we got a private tour at the fire station where Andy worked many years. Thanks again for the wonderful time and hopefully see you again in Nashville…
The more we come to the South the more difficult it gets to find a free spot for overnight. In the Ocala National Forest we are lucky and get the last free site at the Juniper Springs campground. The Park has a crystal clear swimming pool which is served from a spring. In addition, they have a canoe trail downstream from 7 miles. We stay a couple of days and love to swim and explore the river with a canoe.
We pass St Petersburg and drive to Fort de Soto where we get the last place on the campground. The temperature dropped to 40F at night and the wind is ice cold. We drive a few miles further South up to Anna Maria Island and then we decide to turn around. We have seen the Southern Part of Florida two times in the last years and it doesn`t make much sense for us to do it again.
In Kissimee we visit Christian and Yolanda which we met in Cartagena/Colombia a year ago when they were on the move to Orlando. We spend a nice evening together in downtown Orlando and in the morning, we have breakfast in Celebration. This a part of Orlando which was designed from Walt Disney.
It´s bike week in Daytona Beach and we don`t want to miss it. More than half a million bikers come here for one week of party and fun. We find a parking place for MOMO in between all the bikers and stroll around. It`s an unbelievable spectacle. Even the Hare Krishna people rebirthed. After some hours we have enough of it and before the Wet T-shirt contest starts we leave the place and make our way further North.
In San Augustin we make a short stop for lunch and stroll thru the historic town and visit the Fort. There we meet Juliana who we last saw in 2013 as we shipped our car from Germany to South America and once again in Ushuaia in the same year. Juliana is 74 and travels alone thru the world with her Toyota mobile home.
After Jacksonville we cross the state border to Georgia and go on to Savannah. But what we experience there is then part of the next blog. Until then enjoy reading and watching the pictures and like us on Facebook.